18th Oct2021

Grimmfest 2021: ‘Forgiveness’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jessica Ortiz, Alejandra Zaid, Alejandra Toussaint, Andres de la Mora, Horacio Castelo, Laura de Ita, Diego Garza | Written and Directed by Alex Kahuam

Forgiveness sees three women mysteriously wake up in a hospital and discover that one of them is deaf, one is mute and the other one is blind; together they will have to figure out why they are there and how to get out…

The title of Forgiveness is somewhat of a misnomer. It seems, from the epilogue, that the three women at the centre of the film are trying to stay alive. We’re not told explicitly but it does look like they’ve tied up and killed a capture, rapist, abuser, whatever; and are merely fighting for their lives. That they should then face some tortuous journey through a hospital hellscape is the opposite of seeking forgiveness. It’s more like – as the are told by their victims father – they are paying for the crime of killing a man who clearly, if the tone of the epilogue is to be believed, deserved it.

Forgiveness is split into five chapters: a prologue; a chapter for each of the three women, Magnea, Aisha and Camila; and an epilogue which wraps up the film and provides SOME conclusion to the film. Though little explanation as to what the audience has seen. Which is unfortunate because with a little explanation Forgiveness might have been a bit more than a series of exploitation cliches. How exploitative? Well let me simplify the film for you, Forgiveness is like Sucker Punch for the Hostel crowd, with our put-upon trio living through some hellish purgatory that degrades them at each and every turn.

Yes, unlike the aforementioned Sucker Punch which, while conforming to some overtly-sexual male-gazing, at least gave their female characters some empowerment; Forgiveness treats its core trio of women like objects to be used and abused by everyone involved, be they men or women. And abused they are – be it raped, molested, made to participate in lesbian porn by one nurse, then preyed upon by another [possibly vampiric] nurse (yes, both of those do happen!), or just killed by a couple of crazed maniacs stalking the hospital halls. The trio of Magnea, Aisha and Camila are put through the proverbial ringer in that is, ultimately, a very bleak film; one that never feels like there’s any sort of redemption for ANYONE involved, be they protagonist or antagonist!

Not that there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel for our trio of heroines – after all one of them, who’s rendered blind by the hospital, seems to have some sort of superpower. But that’s the thing, is all very vague. The first girl is apparently made mute by the hospital she awakens in; the second is made deaf (the only way you can tell is by seeing her terror at waking top and the piercing audio on the soundtrack) and the third is blind with a strange stunning “super power” that materialises when she is under duress. A power that’s render moot unfortunately by the holes in the film plotting. Yet all three women NEVER SPEAK. The entire film is, apart from some dialogue spoke at the end of there film, totally dialogue free. Grunts, groans, screams and moans galore… but not a shred of dialogue.

If you’ve seen Sucker Punch you’ll probably know where Forgiveness is headed and as such the film makes for depressing, and sometimes harrowing, viewing.

*** 3/5

Forgiveness screened as part of this years Grimmfest.


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